Even though he was one of the most popular comic book characters of the late 1990s, The Darkness is still one of the most elusive, enigmatic heroes around. After being introduced in Top Cow Productions' flagship title Witchblade, The Darkness quickly spun off into his own series. Since he was created by Marc Silvestri, David Wohl and Garth Ennis, The Darkness has found tremendous success in comics and video games.
While The Darkness might have become the center of a successful multi-media franchise, he's been all but forgotten by mainstream culture today. Now, CBR is going to take a deep dive into the world of The Darkness, with a closer look at everything you need to know about this Image Comics icon.
WHAT IS THE DARKNESS?
The Darkness, much like Venom's symbiote, is a life-form that chooses a host. This eldritch monstrosity is the embodiment of the darkness that filled the universe before it began. When light materialized (physically manifested in the series as the character Angelus), the Darkness grew to resent creation. The Darkness declared war on Angelus, which resulted in a war fought to a bloody standstill. As a mark of their mutual refusal to fight, they created the Witchblade.
The Darkness, however, did not disappear in silence. The Darkness selected a bloodline to take on as human vessel, passed from father to son. The Darkness would emerge on the host's 21st birthday. Most of his hosts were violent monsters, usually dictators, warlords, murderers and thieves. However, when the powers were passed to the son, the host would die as the Darkness took on new blood.
WHO IS THE DARKNESS?
The Darkness' most famous host is Jackie Estacado. This mafia hitman was raised in the mob, and lascivious, violent-criminal who comes to realize he is the newest host to the Darkness. Caught in a conflict between the Mafia, cults who oppose and worship the Darkness, demons from Hell and the entity Angelus, Estacado is in a constant struggle against the forces of Heaven, Earth, and Hell in order to find his own place in reality, and he often finds himself caught in the tug-of-war between forces.
While Jackie Estacado is the most well-known host of The Darkness, his ancestors were all hosts as well. His family of previous hosts includes the pirate Miguel Estacado, the Old West outlaw Ramon Estacado, his grandfather Roberto Estacado and his mob boss father Danny Estacado.
However, the first host of The Darkness is Aram, an ancient Witch King who managed to exorcist the Darkness from his own body over 10,000 years ago, who is still alive thanks to his immortality.
THE POWERS OF THE DARKNESS
The Darkness is a cosmic entity of incredible powers. Anyone who wields the Darkness can exercise control over the Darklings -- serpentine, goblin-like monsters that sprout from the host's body. The Darkness itself can manifest as armor over the host's body, which grants the user incredible strength and durability. They can regenerate from any number of injuries, including bullets wounds and poisonings.
Much like the powers of Hellspawn from Spawn, the hosts can create any number of weapons and gear based on the limitations of their imaginations. But also like the Hellspawn, Holy items that draw power from Angelus can wound or kill the Darkness and its hosts. Even an extensive amount of light can be lethal to The Darkness, since it's the counter the the Darkness' primordial strength.
THE DARKNESS IN COMICS
The first volume of The Darkness ran from 1996 to 2001, and was a consistently popular title, especially during the first part of its run. During this time, Top Cow licensed the Darkness to Marvel and DC for brief crossover issues, crossing The Darkness over with Batman, Superman, and Wolverine.
After the first series ended with Jackie's apparent death, Jackie returned from his stay in Hell in a new series that began in 2002. The series was largely shepherded by writer Paul Jenkins, who explored a more supernatural angle with the character, dealing with the politics of Hell on the physical world.
While The Darkness hasn't had a regular series for a few years, Top Cow announced that The Darkness would be getting a news series later this year from Matt Hawkins and Tom Grindberg.
THE DARKNESS VIDEO GAME
Outside of comic books, The Darkness is most famous for his role in the video game: The Darkness. The game allows players to take command of Estacado, the Darklings and the full range of his abilities. In addition to its first-person action, the well-reviewed game is remembered for its solid script from Paul Jenkins and a tragic moment where the mafia kills Estacado's girlfriend while the Darkness holds you still, knowing that the rage will drive Jackie to a murderous rage. After that game was released in 2007, a follow-up title, The Darkness II, was released to mostly positive reviews in 2012.
Despite the success of those two games and The Darkness' one-time comic book dominance, a new video game and a long-gestating movie have never materialized. With a new comic relaunch on the way, it might not be too much longer before The Darkness sees the light of day again.